Celebrities and Rheumatoid Arthritis

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Two Miss Americas

Last week, I was so excited when I ran across an article about Meredith Boyd, a former Miss USA contestant and Mrs. Georgia International. But it wasn’t her beauty and poise that fascinated me. It was her support of the Arthritis Foundation and her own Rheumatoid Arthritis…

Some of you know that two of my children are deaf. When my firstborn got her first hearing aids at age four, Heather Whitestone had just become the first Miss America with a disability. I cried the night that she sang and won the pageant – she is deaf. What an inspiration she was to me and my daughter and to deaf children everywhere.

Wherever we went for hearing aid adjustments or speech therapy, we saw taped up pictures of Heather Whitestone. People were cutting out every article they could find to say: LOOK! Miss America is deaf. We are not alone.

Searching for a Rheumatoid Arthritis Celebrity

So many times, I have heard people with RA say: We need to find our celebrities. We need them to speak out about having Rheumatoid Arthritis. That is why I jump to read every article about a famous person who has RA.

This weekend, a friend tweeted about the Rheumatoid Arthritis of a Hollywood star. I flew to the full article. Who is it?  What’s she saying about it?

I think several of us went and read it all at once because we shared the same reaction: disillusionment. Here is how the People magazine article about Camryn Manheim ended:

According the People writer, Camryn says, “I play racquetball… swim… rollerblade… ride bikes… hike… play guitar. I feel great. You know, the thing is you have to get the proper diagnosis and then you can get the proper treatment. Then you can put it (Rheumatoid Arthritis) behind you and live a full and eventful life.”

I am glad that for some people RA is like that. But I don’t know many. I don’t think I’ll be taping-up that magazine story.

Help Wanted ad: Celebrities to represent

I have never been much for celebrity. I don’t read People magazine. I’m more likely to read Woman’s Day. At least I used to be…

But I get it! I know why people with rheumatoid disease want a celebrity who understands them to represent them to the world.  I know because I fell in love with Heather Whitestone for making my little girl feel capable and understood.

Next post on celebrities and RA: what can WE do?

Celebrities and Rheumatoid Arthritis, Part 2

“Dealing with RA Is So Much Easier than Lupus” –Kathy Lubbers

Read the People magazine article for yourself.

You will love to read Heather Whitestone McCallum’s superb example of advocacy while she is just being herself in a brief interview in Audiology Online.  If you love her as much as I do, you might check out Heather’s website, too.

Recommended reading:

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Kelly Young. All rights reserved.

This entry was posted on Monday, October 5th, 2009 at 8:24 am and is filed under Communication and Inspiration. You can follow any responses to this entry through the RSS 2.0 feed. You can leave a response, or trackback from your own site.


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